Polaris debuted the Ranger XP Kinetic on Wednesday, an all-new off-road vehicle with an electric powertrain. It’s the first product to bear fruit from their alliance with electric motorcycle maker Zero.
To be clear, Polaris has offered an electrically-powered side-by-side Ranger model for many years previous, but that machine was built on legacy technologies more similar to the underpinnings of a golf cart, including using heavy lead-acid batteries. The Ranger XP Kinetic is an all-new, high-tech platform using the latest lithium-based batteries and a modern, sophisticated electric powertrain. The new machine will roll out in summer 2022, starting at $24,999, with a Premium trim available for $29,999. Buyers can reserve a machine starting today.
And while the new electric Ranger is not a street-legal vehicle, it highlights Polaris’ push into the EV space in one of the more hotly contested segments of modern vehicle design, as side-by-side vehicles are popular across many markets, from farm use to hunters and also off-road recreational vehicles. Polaris also produces the gas-powered Slingshot, a street-legal three-wheeled sports machine classified by many states as a motorcycle, but with most of the attributes of a car – or a side-by-side vehicle.
Steve Menneto, President of Off Road Vehicles at Polaris, told Forbes.com that the Ranger project was “a great opportunity to work together” with Zero Motorcycles. He confirmed the new Ranger XP will make 110 horsepower and more importantly, 140 pound-feet of torque, which should come in handy for the towing and hauling the Ranger will be expected to perform. Polaris says the new Ranger will have a towing capacity of 2,500 pounds, a number closer to that of many crossover SUVs.
Those motor power output numbers closely shadow the performance figures for Zero’s top-spec electric motorcycles, and indeed, Polaris confirmed to Forbes.com that the Ranger is using a version of the air-cooled electric motor that also powers motorcycles such as the SR/S. “While the motor is based off Zero’s ZF75-10, the engine is designed specifically for the RANGER XP Kinetic,” Polaris said in an email.
Range will depend on trim, with the base Ranger packing a 14.9kWh battery for up to 45 miles of range and the Ultimate version essentially doubling that figure with a 29.8kWh power cell. The Ultimate will also get niceties like a 7-inch touch screen with Polaris’ well-rounded Ride Command system, including three ride modes. “Sport” mode should be quite entertaining if Zero’s electric motorcycles in Sport mode are any indicator. An updated version called Ride Command+ will give Ranger owners more controls and remote updates on battery levels, charging and vehicle location, an important feature when the Ranger is out in the wild.
Several weeks ago, while previewing the new Zero SR electric motorcycle for Forbes.com, marketing director Dan Quick paid me a visit and hinted that news was on the horizon outside the motorcycle sphere. In our chat, he acknowledged that while Zero is clearly in the motorcycle business, they are fast becoming a company that also specializes in producing electric powertrains. The partnership with Polaris likely hints at broader efforts along those lines going forward.
Steve Menneto told Forbes.com that they expect the electric Ranger to be a popular seller once production begins and that they have had ongoing requests from their users for such a vehicle, especially given the attributes of an electric powertrain: it’s quiet, has a simplified design and includes impressive hauling and towing capabilities. He said Polaris is also working with a company to help with Level II 240-volt charger installations, although the Ranger will also charge (slowly) off of a wall outlet.
Will there be more Polaris/Zero EVs in the future? Menneto said the Ranger is the first step in a larger EV push for Polaris, and that the technology will eventually migrate to other products. “We see future growth in all areas of powersports,” Menneto said.